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The Cost Of Saying ‘No’ To Budget Requests

Facility managers need to track and communicate the data that shows the damage of cost-cutting measures

While it should be seemingly obvious that operating and maintaining buildings costs money, we, as facility practitioners, are continually battling for funding and constantly pushed to justify reinvestment into the organization. There is this perpetuated misnomer that facilities can always do more with less. However, the truth is, we can only do less with less; we are just good at kicking the proverbial can down the road (by the way, the can gets much bigger and heavier the further we kick it).

Do other departments within the organization endure the same scrutiny? Are they thrown into the same fiscal pressure cooker with us? Does upper management just not get the facilities world? Do the executives not care about their buildings and the hard-working people that support them? Where’s the disconnect? Who is to blame for this dichotomy?

It’s us — completely on us.

We have failed to track and communicate the necessary information, in terms that matter, to those that control the purse strings. We have not relayed to management the cost of them repeatedly saying “no” to our budget requests. Instead, we go back into our cave, rub a few nickels together in hopes of squeezing out a quarter, and somehow keep the buildings humming – as long as you do not look behind the curtain.

Eventually, if we keep going down this road, we will realize that the “yellow bricks” are actually laden with fool’s gold. We must change our approach for the sake of the organization, the health of the facilities team, and for our own sanity.

The first needed change is that of our mindset. When I ask about the health or successes of a facility department, I often receive elated responses that identify costs savings. While I agree that facility organizations can be rather inefficient, especially if they are more than 50 percent reactive, our cost-cutting focus will keep us on the path of doing more with less. The more we tout cost-cutting, the more management will see facilities as a cost center that needs to be cut.

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